Brooklyn Nets confident they can hang with Toronto Raptors

Brooklyn Nets, Caris Levert

The Brooklyn Nets, 34-36, recently clinched the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference. They’re currently slated to face off with the defending NBA-champion Toronto Raptors in the first round of the playoffs.

Despite going 1-3 against their divisional rival this season, the Nets feel they have a chance to knock out the Raptors.

Caris LeVert says if the Nets “move the ball well” and “play good defense” they can win the series (quotes per Brian Lewis of the New York Post).

“We know they’re a really good team. Obviously they’re playing good basketball, they move the ball really well, they’re a great defensive team, as well,” Caris LeVert said. “But for us, we feel like it’s about us. If we move the ball well, if we play good defense, if we’re locked into the game plan, we can win that series. We truly believe that. So we’re gonna go into that playoff matchup all the way locked in.”

The Nets are without Spencer Dinwiddie, DeAndre Jordan, Taurean Prince, Wilson Chandler, Nic Claxton, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant in the NBA bubble. Despite the aforementioned absences, the Nets have pulled off a handful of impressive victories which include beating the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Clippers.

One of the new faces for the Nets is guard Tyler Johnson. Johnson says that if the Nets play their “style of basketball” they can beat anybody.

“As far as going into Toronto, you know what to expect. Then again, there’s no homecourt advantage. You’re playing a basketball team in the same spot for however many games it takes to advance,” Johnson said. “For us, it’s continue to play our style of basketball. At this point, we understand that, if we do that, we’re capable of beating anybody, and we showed it.”

Garrett Temple says if the Nets, who are 4-2 in the bubble, continue to “share the ball” and “get stops” they can win some games.

“To clinch seventh was big for us, obviously. We wanted to play whoever was going to be in that second spot, obviously it’s Toronto. We feel confident,” Garrett Temple said. “We’re confident. If we play the right way, if we play like we’ve been playing the last 2 or 3 games, share the ball, get stops, even though they turn people over, if we’re able to take care of it and do what we’ve been doing, we have a chance to win some games.”

Jacque Vaughn is 6-2 since taking over as interim head coach in March.

Tyler Johnson views the Brooklyn Nets as a chance at ‘redemption’

Tyler Johnson, Brooklyn Nets

Tyler Johnson will be one of the handful of new faces suiting up for the Brooklyn Nets in the NBA restart later this month.

Ironically, Johnson signed a four-year, $50 million offer sheet with the Nets in 2016, but the Miami Heat matched the contract, as the guard was a restricted free agent.

Johnson is “ecstatic” to finally be playing for the Nets (quotes per Brian Lewis of the New York Post).

“My mom still says Sean is one of her favorite people of all time. We’re very fortunate to be in this position. I signed that offer sheet four years ago, so I was ready at that time to become a Net,” Johnson said, referring to a restricted free agent offer sheet.

“Obviously we know the story, Miami matched it. But … we were very interested in what was being built here. So we actually did sign that offer sheet and I was ecstatic when we got that call to come back over here.”

Nets interim head coach Jacque Vaughn says Johnson “fit into the description of what a Net is.”

“I did meet Tyler and overall impression was this was a guy we’d love to have with us in our organization, a guy that understands what it means to play and consider more than just himself when he’s on the floor. So he fit into the description of what a Net is,” Vaughn said.”

“Part of life’s twists and turns. We get him a little later, and fortunate to have him on the team now.”

The Heat traded Johnson to the Phoenix Suns two and a half seasons into his four-year deal. The Suns released Johnson in February.

Johnson ponders whether he was “100 percent” in Phoenix.

“Maybe I wasn’t at 100 percent. I was working through it, trying to get right. But I didn’t have that pop, that bounce I used to have where I’d try to go up over the top of people. Who knows if that played a role in anything,” said Johnson, adding his knee is OK now. “I don’t put any blame anywhere but myself. At the end of the day I can only control myself.”

Johnson views being with the Nets as a chance at “redemption.”

“Obviously it didn’t work out the way I would’ve wanted. There was a handful of things that could’ve gone better, not necessarily being anybody’s fault. Coming in and having the quick change, it took a long time for everyone to get on the same page. Unfortunately it didn’t work out. But fortunately, I’m here. I find myself in a position where I can have a little bit of redemption.”

Johnson averaged 5.7 points and 1.6 assists per game while shooting 38.0 percent from the field across 31 games with the Suns this season.

Brooklyn Nets sign Justin Anderson

Brooklyn Nets, Justin Anderson

Wilson Chandler’s one-way ticket to Walt Disney World has been transferred. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Brooklyn Nets have signed Justin Anderson.

This move comes on the heels of Chandler, who appeared in 35 games this season, telling the Nets that he won’t be present when the 2019-20 NBA regular season resumes in late-July. Chandler was averaging 5.9 points and 4.1 rebounds per game.

Anderson appeared in three games for the Nets this season, playing on a 10-day contract. Across those games he averaged 5.7 minutes per contest. Anderson also played for the team’s G-League affiliate, the Long Island Nets.

Across 16 games, 14 of which he started, Anderson averaged 20.5 points, 6.4 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.1 steals per game while shooting 47.8 percent from the field and 37.1 percent from beyond the arc.

Anderson spent time with the Nets, Dallas Mavericks, Philadelphia 76ers and Atlanta Hawks. He was selected by the Mavericks with the 21st pick in the 2015 NBA Draft out of Virginia. The forward is averaging 5.3 points and 2.5 rebounds per game for his career.

The Nets recently waived guard Theo Pinson. He appeared in 51 games for the Nets over the last two seasons after signing with the team as an undrafted free agent in 2018. Brooklyn subsequently signed guard Tyler Johnson. Johnson previously appeared in 31 games for the Phoenix Suns this season, averaging 5.7 points per game.

The Nets (30-34) are the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference, eight and a half games behind the sixth-seeded Philadelphia 76ers, a half-game ahead of the eighth-seeded Orlando Magic and six games ahead of the ninth-seeded Washington Wizards.

Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving aren’t expected to make the trip to Florida. Durant, recovering from a torn Achilles tendon, recently said on the “Dawg Talk” podcast that he wouldn’t play if he were healthy.

“I feel, me right now, I probably wouldn’t have played because the unknown going into that situation looks crazy right now, seeing so many new cases. It’s just so unpredictable. It’s easy for me to say right now because I’m injured, but I probably wouldn’t have went down there [to Orlando].”